Europe-PH News

Business Led Anticorruption Drive Needs Support

June 26, 2011

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines

It takes two to tango as the saying goes, and it applies just as we to corruption.  Bribery is consummated only when the offer of a bribe is accepted or when the briber and the recipient both see it as part of the normal course of events.

Except, that, of course, the law sees it otherwise.

Now, even the private sector has realized that it must take a proactive stance in fighting corruption.

The Integrity Initiative was launched last year by the Makati Business Club (MBC) together with the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Asian Institute of Management, Coalition Against Corruption and the ManagementAssociation of the Philippines.

The Integrity Initiative is the latest approach to put an end to the culture of corruption in the country, one company at a time, and it deserves all the support it can get.

Companies that sign the Integrity Pledge commit to shun bribery in any form, maintain a code of conduct for employees to pursue ethical business practices, and implement internal systems that will prevent any unethical conduct within their firms.

They also vow to maintain transparent and appropriate financial reporting mechanisms and to allow themselves to be subjected to audit should the need arise.  They likewise commit to eventually enter into integrity pacts with government agencies and other businesses especially in procurement. 

What the Integrity Initiative seeks to do is to formulate integrity standards by which companies will be measured.  This will give qualified firms some sort of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) recognition.

The goal is to get government agencies to commit to accept only bids coming from integrity-certified companies.  This will encourage more companies to sign the Integrity Pledge.

To date, the Integrity Initiative counts a total of 550 companies, both big and small, that have signed up.

It's an idea whose time has come.

So much so that it has won the support of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.  She signed her pledge last week in behalf of the Department of Justice (DOJ), a move that the MBC hopes would prod more government officials to join hands with the business community to push the anticorruption initiative.

The DOJ is the first government organization to join the private sector led initiative.  More government agencies are reportedly eager to join the effort, including the Department of Education, the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The anticorruption movement will hold an Integrity Summit on September 21, the anniversary of the declaration of martial law in 1972, which usheredin the era of what's been called "crony capitalism" or using connections with Malacanang to gain undue favor for one's business interests.

Crony capitalism is a variant of what militants have long decried as "bureaucrat capitalism."

Whatever the nomenclature, the objective is the same: to make huge amounts of public funds go into private pockets.

Integrity Initiative proceeds from a simple premise: When no bribe is offered, and none is expected, no corruption takes place.

When you come to think of it, it takes only a simple step to stop corruption dead in its tracks: just say "no" -- and stick to it.


Source: Business Mirror; Opinion; 22 June 2011

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